SRAM Code RSC brake review$244.00

A benchmark brake

BikeRadar score5/5

SRAM dropped a serious gravity anchor in 2017, in the shape of the Guide RE e-bike brake, which combines a Guide lever with an old Code caliper. That’s still an awesome stopper for the money, but this Code RSC is an absolute downhill domination tool.

Given how well SRAM’s Guide brakes are liked, it’s not surprising that the Code shares a lot of similarities, particularly in terms of rider interaction. Lever shape is the same, as is the close-to-bar pivot point, which gives a natural-feeling sweep.

The hinged bar clamp, which mates neatly with SRAM shifters and remotes (as well as an increasing amount of other brands’ gear) is carried over too, giving a really firm bar hold to underline the rich feedback from the brake.

Also shared with the Guide are the reach-adjust knob on the lever knuckle and the embedded bite-point dial, although the former has been tweaked slightly, which improves feel. If you’re used to SRAM or Avid anchors you’ll feel at home immediately, but even if you’re not, the adjusters are intuitive to use and make a useful difference.

The ‘SwingLink’ cam and cartridge-bearing lever still give the superb lightness of touch and modulation sensitivity that makes the Guide my benchmark for sketchy surface control too. Unlike a lot of high-power brakes, the new Code doesn’t overbite like someone put a branch through your wheel. That means no sliding out or tucking under in slippery turns.

Where the Code comes into its own is when extreme conditions or stopping loads are the norm rather than the exception. SRAM says it gives 15 percent more power than the Guide, and while I haven’t dyno tested it yet, a 180mm rotor certainly feels like a 200mm disc, and stopping horsepower seems comparable to benchmarks such as Magura’s four-piston MT brakes and Shimano’s Saint and Zee. With 30 percent more reservoir volume, it’ll soak up a mountain of heat without any change in performance.

The extra volume does add 45g per end (487g for a full 180mm front set-up) over the Guide RSC and makes it one of the heaviest brakes around. Unlike the Guide, it can lose a lot of fluid if you unplug the hose (for frame fitting, etc), so make sure to take it off the bar and point it upwards to minimise dripping.

Bleeding through the all-new four-pot caliper is very simple if it needs to be done though, and all sets I’ve used have been rock-solid reliable and consistent so far.

This article was originally published in Mountain Biking UK magazine, available on Apple Newsstand and Zinio.

Guy Kesteven

Freelance Writer, UK
Guy started filling his brain with cycle stats and steaming up bike shop windows back in 1980. He worked the other side of those windows from '89 while getting a degree in “describing broken things covered in mud" (archaeology). Dug historical holes in the ground through the early '90s, then became a pro bike tester in '97. Guy has ridden thousands of bikes and even more components the world over since then and can remember them all in vivid, haunting detail. Can't remember where the car keys are, though.
  • Age: 45
  • Height: 180cm / 5' 11"
  • Weight: 68kg / 150lb
  • Waist: 76cm / 30in
  • Chest: 91cm / 36in
  • Discipline: Strict sadomasochist
  • Preferred Terrain: Technical off-piste singletrack and twisted back roads. Up, down, along — so long as it's faster than the last time he did it he's happy.
  • Current Bikes: An ever changing herd of test machines from Tri bikes to fat bikes and everything in between.
  • Dream Bike: His Nicolai Helius AM custom tandem
  • Beer of Choice: Theakston's Old Peculier (not Peculiar)
  • Location: Yorkshire, UK

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